THE BLOG
19/11/2013 08:04 GMT | Updated 25/01/2014 16:01 GMT

Streets of Bangkok

I'm a big fan of Wagamama - I've used it to soak up a big night out, prepare for a big night out and break up the day when I'm doing a bit of shopping.

In many ways, it revolutionised the way we ate in London. Shared tables, family-style service hadn't been something we were accustomed to before the noodle chain came along.

Founder Alan Yau has moved on a bit since then, going more upmarket in Soho with Yauatcha, which specialises in dim sum with slightly higher prices. He also took over the Busaba Eathai franchise, which does a similar thing to Wagamama but in slightly darker surroundings. It's more the kind of place you can take a fun first date.

It's clear that he's got his finger on the pulse and it's obvious that he's never content to rest on his laurels. Islington's Naamyaa is a semi-return to that café-style culture which has served him so well.

It's not exactly great for kerb appeal, housed inside an office block near Angel tube. There's a Hummingbird Bakery next door. But once inside, the décor feels familiar and welcoming. The kitchen is square and in the centre of the restaurant, where you can see the chefs doing their business. It's a decent-sized space, but we got a good seat next to the window, all the better to people-watch the denizens of north London going about their business. The layout is simple, not shared, but with that slightly more basic set-up you associate with Wagamama.

The theme of the menu is Bangkok street food, but paying homage to the colonial influences of its neighbouring countries. As such, there's a great deal of choice - from soupy broths to burgers. So we got to taste a little of lots, we decided to share everything, apart from our Thai beers.

My friend Sophie and I started with wok tossed cashew nuts, which were smoky and had a spicy tang. Their crunch was a good antidote to the Asian calamari. The squid had a good flavour, but was a little chewy. The standout were the jasmine tea smoked ribs. Succulent, melty flesh, char sui-y but with an undercurrent of jasmine - it was annoying that we only ordered one portion.

I dabbled with the idea of eating a burger. Someone on the table next to us ordered one and it looked delicious. But it seemed slightly churlish to eat a patty in a place like this, so we plumped for mussaman duck curry, which warmed the tummy, but seemed to have been dosed with a bit too much clove. The chicken laksa was the perfect mix of creamy and tart, the right kind of hardy for the cold November lunchtime we visited.

The food came pretty quickly, meaning we were in and out fairly sharpish. It may have been because we came quite early and the chefs didn't have enough to do yet, but next time, I think it'd be nice to have a little bit more time to savour our meal.

Nevertheless, this is another interesting branch to the Yau empire. As we left, there were a couple of big tables being seated and I can see this being successful with the Christmas party lunch crowd. Come here with your work friends - grab a cupcake for tea on the way back to the office. Certainly I look forward to popping in again.